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UPDATE 2-Chesapeake reports higher profit, raises forecast on soaring crude prices

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(Adds details, price action)

Feb 23 (Reuters) - Shale oil and gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp said on Wednesday its adjusted profit rose nearly 15% in the fourth quarter from the third and raised its 2022 earnings forecast amid surging oil prices.

Oil and gas prices have jumped in recent months on strong demand due an economic rebound from the pandemic, while supply growth has lagged. U.S. crude futures settled at $92.10 per barrel on Wednesday, up nearly 50% from the same time last year.

Chesapeake raised its forecast for 2022 earnings before interest, depreciation, amortization and exploration (EBITDAX) to between $3.8 billion and $4.0 billion, compared with an earlier estimate of between $3.4 billion and $3.6 billion.

The company also said it would pay its first variable dividend in March, bringing its total quarterly dividend to about $1.77 per share, a move that coincides with U.S. oil companies responding to pressure from shareholders to focus on increasing returns.

Rival Diamondback Energy on Tuesday boosted its annual dividend by 20%.

Shares of Chesapeake were up about 0.75% in after hours trading to $69 each.

Chesapeake, which emerged from bankruptcy at the start of 2021, said its adjusted profit increased to $308 million, or $2.39 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $269 million, or $2.38 per share, in the third quarter. Analysts had anticipated earnings of $2.48 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES. (Reporting by Shariq Khan; Editing by Maju Samuel and Grant McCool)